A GRIEVING father burgled a derelict hotel in a 'foolish' attempt to raise money for his son's funeral, a court was told.
Mark Griffin - father of 20-year-old Luke Griffin, who died in June during an end of season football tour to Newquay, Cornwall - admitted breaking into the disused Victoria Hotel in Newnham-on-Severn with two friends to steal copper piping at Gloucester Crown Court yesterday, Thursday, August 16.
The court heard it was the tragedy of Luke's death that led Griffin to target the hotel's valuable piping on June 21 with help from friends David Tucker, aged 42, of Bramble Lane, Stonehouse and Adrian Kennedy, aged 40, of Westward Road, Ebley, who also admitted burglary. All three men were arrested when an alarm company alerted police and officers caught the trio red-handed.
Prosecutor Giles Nelson described how pipes had already been cut and water was running from them when officers attended.
Two large canvas bags had been filled with piping and the cost of the damage was just short of £4,000.
Mr Nelson said Griffin, aged 42, of Mathews Way, Stroud, told police his benefits had been changed and he needed to get money together for a funeral.
Griffin's barrister, Rosie Walsh, told the court: "He has been in quite tragic circumstances recently.
"This relates to the death of his son in early June during a football tour in Cornwall.
"It appears his son had been out socialising and became involved in an incident and then seems to have fallen from a cliff.
"The body has still not been returned to the family. It is still in Cornwall and Mr Griffin has been told it will now be held there for another month while tests on the brain and toxicological tests are carried out. "These are very tragic circumstances which are being long drawn out because of the ongoing investigation.
"At the time of this offence, Mr Griffin's benefits had been changed and for four and a half weeks he had received no money whatsoever. "He was very anxious that he would not have enough money to be able to bring his son back. "Fortunately, that situation has now been rectified by a good friend who has stepped in to help.
"My client was in very dire circumstances at the time and that perhaps clouded his judgement."
Ms Walsh said Tucker was Luke's godfather and he suggested that burgling the disused hotel would be a way of getting some money together. Kennedy, who was unemployed and on benefits, had also agreed to join in.
Recorder Ben Compton QC told the men it had been a 'targeted attack' on the hotel because they knew it would have copper piping to steal.
"Everything that I say is overtaken by the fact that you have suffered an appalling tragedy this year and one that is going to live with you thereafter," the recorder told Griffin. "However, it was a really stupid offence for which you must now be kicking yourself."
Griffin was sentenced to six months home curfew from 9pm-6am every night. The recorder said if this caused any difficulties in terms of going to Cornwall or anything else to do with Luke's death, Griffin he could apply through his solicitors to have the curfew amended.
Kennedy was sentenced to do 100 hours of unpaid work.
Tucker's sentencing was adjourned until September 12 after the court heard the offence puts him in breach of a suspended sentence imposed last October for another offence.